“Catholic” Notre Dame University Rationalizes About Contraceptives in Insurance Coverage

Featured

Late last year,  the University of Notre Dame announced that its insurance plans for employees and participating students would be eligible to receive contraceptive drugs through a third-party administrator.  In light of this, university president  Father John Jenkins reiterated that Notre Dame still remained “unwavering in our fidelity to our Catholic mission.”  The reason for this action, he said, was that the school was respecting the other beliefs and practices of their Notre Dame community who made “conscientious decisions about the use of such drugs.”Without indicating which drugs were permitted, he claimed that no abortifacients would be provided.

Responsibility  for  Sins

If only it were as simple as Father Jenkins stated.  Paragraph 1868 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church says:

“Sin is a personal act.  Moreover, we have a responsibility for the sins committed by others when we cooperate in them [emphasis retained]:

  • by participating directly and voluntarily in them;
  • by ordering, advising, praising, or approving them;
  • by not disclosing or not hindering them when we have an obligation to do so;
  • by protecting evil-doers.”2

The university’s position of having a third-party provide contraceptives under the provisions of its insurance plans runs afoul of two of these aspects.  The third applies in that the university had within its power to hinder the use of contraceptives.  Instead, it washed its hands a la Pontius Pilate and passed it off to a third-party provider.  Regarding the second point, while not openly approving the morality of contraceptive use, Notre Dame, by its actions gives tacit approval.  To find a similar example, this university would never give a third-party approval to provide for abortions on a limited basis just because some employees or students feel that rape or incest is a justifiable excuse for one.  —  Or would it?

 

Contraception  and  the  General  Role  of  the  Conscience

Paragraph 2399 of the Catechism addresses contraception with:

“The regulation of births represents one of the aspects of responsible fatherhood and motherhood.  Legitimate intentions on the part of the spouses do not justify recourse to morally unacceptable means (for example, direct sterilization or contraception).”2

Father Jenkins acknowledged “conscientious decisions” made by some of their community regarding the use of these drugs.  Nevertheless, the various contraceptives have differing degrees of immorality regardless of the individual’s level of conscience formation.  Regarding consciences and how we should respond to them:

“While it is taught that a man may follow his conscience even if it be erroneous, this does not make the conclusions of an erroneous conscience true or worthy of respect… And even if their erroneous consciences may lessen their culpability, Jesus does not leave them free of any role in their deformed consciences.  Thus, He adds, ‘They will do these things because they have not known the Father or Me.’ (John 16:3)  So the Church’s response to an erroneous conscience should not be to affirm it or to pronounce it worthy of respect.  While we want to respect that some people are sincerely wrong and wish to treat them with dignity, we must continue to insist that those who have erroneous consciences are wrong.  We must teach both them and others what is true and why.”3

It’s appropriate that “Notre Dame” means Our Lady (Virgin Mary).  Because the traditional date of March 25 celebrating the Annunciation occurred during Holy Week this year, the U.S. bishops moved its 2018 commemoration to yesterday (April 9).  This annual solemnity reminds us that we Christians are grateful that Mary was totally open to life as God willed it.  May the University of Notre Dame do as its namesake by striving to promote openness to human life.

 

1 – “’Simple Contraceptives’ Added To Notre Dame Health Plan,” by Catholic News Agency as reported in the March 4, 2018 issue of National Catholic Register.

2 – The Catechism of the Catholic Church, second edition, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, twenty-fifth printing, November, 2013.

3 – “What Conscience Is and Is Not,” by Msgr. Charles Pope (dean and pastor in the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C.), same issue as in footnote #1.

Advertisements

Trump’s Tariffs Parallel Early Days of Necessary EPA Regulations

Featured

President Trump’s tariffs on steel are bringing both joy and worry.  The joy comes from our steel mills which have been unfairly hurt by the flood of low-cost imports (often subsidized by foreign governments).  The worry comes from some manufacturers who will pay more for the raw materials they have been importing or pay the higher prices from U.S. sources.  Eventually, they will have to raise their selling prices or absorb the increase.

True, in the final analysis, some jobs may be lost by tariffs as some are being gained.  The new equilibrium will take time to shake out.  Regardless of the final tally, this will bring the total cost of the goods affected to be in line with what they should be which will allow market forces to allocate resources more efficiently.

What does this have in common with the early days of cost increases due to compliance with EPA regulations?

Prior to the EPA, industry and cities were essentially subsidized by the environment because they performed very little clean-up of process waste.   Consequently, products were actually under-priced and municipal costs for utilities were significantly understated because the cost of effluent was being “paid” by the environment.  The result:  dangerously worsening air and water quality.  The new regulations required treatment of air and water effluent.  Sure, prices went up, but the payoff was a healthier world and new jobs for environmental equipment and services.

Just as the environment was giving a de facto subsidy to production facilities and municipalities who weren’t required to properly dispose of waste products,  U.S. fabricators (and therefore, we the buying public) have been beneficiaries of artificially lower priced products made from cheaper imports.

The result:  loss of jobs nationally and some environmental degradation worldwide.  Granted, many U.S. steel manufacturing jobs have been lost because of increased productivity, not trade issues.1   (However, such as not been the case with all industries.  Since the early 1990’s many paper industry jobs have been lost to imports which were subsidized and/or the result of unsustainable forest practices by foreign mills.The article in the foot note was written about the impact in Maine.  However, for example, the Miami Valley in Ohio has lost most of its paper industry jobs in the last two decades for the same reasons.  If Trump had been president then….)

Very inexpensive imports do some damage to fellow U.S. workers.  We can either do something about it, or fret over possible retaliation by other nations.  In the end, our products will either be considered of higher value and overcome these retaliatory policies or they won’t.  A more level playing field is the ultimate aim.  If we fail to act, we will remain an economic hostage and freeze in our tracks as the Carter Administration did during the Iranian hostage situation.  Confronting physical or economic bullies can produce justice.

… Let’s remember there are environmental reasons for not patronizing China’s polluting industries.3

 

1 – “Most US manufacturing jobs lost to technology, not trade,” by Federica Cocco, 12/2/2016, https://www.ft.com/content/dec677c0-b7e6-11e6-ba85-95d1533d9a62

2 –“Where the Paper Industry Went, by Phoenix McLaughlin, 12/14/2015, http://mainemeetsworld.bangordailynews.com/2015/12/14/home/where-the-paper-industry-went/

3 – “Nearly 14,000 Companies in China Violate Pollution Rules,” by Edward Wong, 6/13/2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/13/world/asia/china-companies-air-pollution-paris-agreement.html